Why do weeds grow so well?

Domesticated crops are less hardy (in many senses of the term) because they have been bred too strongly in limited numbers of qualities. Weeds can survive better because they are not performing at their maximum at all times; the excess is security.

Say you have two plants, plant breed A has bred to have high seed production whereas plant breed B is wild. Both plants are injured, while they are in flower and have to allocate extra resources towards healing their injuries. Plant of breed B is able to divert some of its energy away from its flowers and all its other systems because it has a bit of excess to spare, and even though it produces less seed it still produces some. Plant of breed A has all of its energy going towards making flowers at the time it’s injured, and by diverting energy away from them it doesn’t have enough resources to support all its flowers and doesn’t make any seeds.

In the wild, breed B’s linneage would go on to outproduce all the plants in breed A for all the nutrients in the soil, but in captivity where larger seedheads are selected for the only plants that will continue to be planted by the gardener next year are those with the larger seedhead that were fortunant enough not to be injured. But this means that one event coming through, say a dog running through the garden, is enough to destroy the crop. Whereas the weeds capable of being plucked and cast off still reroot and grow to fruiting.

The model of morality to follow is that of a simple weed. Like water, weeds live in the places no one else wants, use the resources that remain untaken, and persist and subside.

-mouse

Building my House

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Just the process of how I built my house. Now, I’m not a very good carpenter and had no clue what I was doing, and I did use allot of materials like glass windows and plywood, and I did use a chainsaw for most of the cutting (I used a crosscut saw too…but back then I didn’t know how to properly sharpen it so it took a lot longer than it should have I realise now, haha), so it’s not entirely coherent with our beliefs. But like everything it’s a step closer and a work in progress.

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Almost all cedar, cut 12 and 14 foot lengths. The interior of the cabin is 10 by 12.

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This is what I was living in through the Summer while I was building my house. The actual cabin itself only took 14 days altogether to build, but they were spread across the whole Summer.

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I didn’t do the roof in any way I’ve seen it done before, but it seemed like the most intuitive way to do it to me. It’s very strong and has held up well in any case. There’s a little loft two-thirds of the way across the inside that you can’t see in any of these pictures.

 

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Some of the cedar shakes I was making. I tried so hard to make enough to cover the roof, but I was running out of time before Winter and really needed a roof, so I went with some plywood a neighbour had left over from a project of theirs they never ended up using and gave me. Between how twisted the cedar was (they logged all the best wood off the property before I got it) and how bad I am with a froe, they didn’t turn out too well. I still have the pile, I split it into kindling and use them for plates to eat off of and such. Ah well, I’ll count it as practice for next time.

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And the inside. It still doesn’t look too much different from that in there, asside from the massive pile of books. I ended up building it for next to nothing compared to how much it usually costs to build a house except the cost of chainsaw gas, most of the materials that didn’t come from my land I got for free from other people. The windows came from the dump, all the 2×4’s I used in building it were excess from building my goat barn on the old property I lived at before this one, the stovepipe and a couple rolls of tarpaper came from a shed a friend of mine was tearing down, and my father had the fitting for the pipe to go through the roof. I did buy the plywood for the floor and the screws, though.

Next one I build will be ALL the right way, with nothing but an axe and materials all straight from the land. I’m away working to pay off my land right now, but when I get back I hope to finish building a wigwam I was working on and move in there instead.

Very often I come across people who ask me how they can be self sufficient, but they either don’t want to go all out and live entirely off the land, or they want to gradually adjust to doing precisely that. I’m far from an expert, but in either case the usual advice I give to people is to break it down into as many small steps as possible, and then set a pace to do them. All a person really needs is just food, water, shelter, and clothing, right? Sooner or later if you keep changing one of your habits at a time you’ll find you’re already doing everything you need to do. After all, how many tasks do you actually do in the day? So this is just a list of easy habits you can change, say one a week. It might not seem like much, but at the end of the year it amounts to allot. And even though a year is along time, how many years have you spent wishing to be more self sufficient, and where are you now?

-Making your own toothpaste. Personally, I prefer to brush my teeth with just baking soda, but you can make more complex ones by adding hydrogen peroxide and mint or cinnamin to the baking soda to turn it into a paste like store bought toothpastes. It’s an awful lot cheaper (plus you know and can control exactly what goes in it), but you still would have to make the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to be truely self sufficient. But atleast baking soda and hydrogen peroxide have allot more uses than toothpaste so it’s considerably more adaptable to stock up on them than to stock up on toothpaste. Same thing with baking powder- it’s just a mix of baking soda and cream of tartar. Why keep baking powder around seperate? If you leave it sit the ingredients slowly react together and lose their effectiveness.

-Dry your clothes on a line or rack. Dryers are one of the least sustainable appliances, they’re expensive, hard to make, and use up allot of electricity. And it’s so easy to dry your own clothes I don’t know why anyone bothers with them. Set up a clothesline or buy or build a drying rack. Once you have it and get into the habit of using it it’s easy to keep the habit going just like anything else on this list.

-Knit something. It only takes a couple hours to knit a hat or mittens or socks or boxers or a storage sack or a dishcloth, and every item that you use that you replace with something you made is a substantial step. Learning to knit is a big thing to do, but once you learn you’ve got it, it’s not something you need to learn again. Making larger projects like pants or shirts or blankets take a much longer time, but for them I recommend setting aside 15 minutes a day just to work on larger projects. Even on a large blanket you can probably knit two rows in 20 minutes, once you’ve got a feel for knitting, and on size 15 needles you would be done now if you’d started three months ago just 20 minutes a day! It’s not that demanding of attention either, so you can do it while reading a book or sitting around talking or at school or watching TV or whathaveyou.

-Make your silverware and dishes. Pretty much everyone knows how to whittle a spoon. I generally just go cut a pair of chopsticks whenever I need a new pair instead of keeping around any dedicated silverware, but I suppose most Westerners are probably more comfortable with forks and such. If you don’t have constant access to the woods, then stock up on materials when you’re out there so you can replace anything on the spot should you need to. The same with bowls. You can burn or carve them out of wood or collect clay and fire some terra cotta. Or forge some if you have access to a forge. If you’re in the city and can’t burn out a bowl or fire pottery in your back yard bring what you make to a kiln. Allot of them let you fire things you made on your own there, for a small fee. Plates are just a slab of wood or slate. It doesn’t need to look good to function perfectly, and you can always go out and grab another stone or piece of bark as yo need it easy enough.

-Wash your clothes by hand. Ok, this one might be a bit harder to swallow for some of you. It’s easy enough though, and doesn’t cost anything or take any longer than using a machine. I’m sure everyone already knows how, but I’ll go over it anyways cause it I feel funny leaving just one blank here. Just fill a sink or bucket with hot soapy water and rub your clothes violently in it until the dirt’s gone, then either empty and refill the bucket or sink clean water or stick them into a seperate rinse sink or bucket. If you’re doing allot of clothes you may have to refresh the water a couple times. Then you wring the clothes out to get rid of as much water as possible, and hang them to dry.

Start a kitchen garden. Just put a couple plant pots up in the window growing herbs. Grow things you already use and you’ll be much more likely to stick with it. Mints, thyme, basil, and oregano are all exceptionally easy to grow. A long rectangular pot can grow radishes or carrots in a window. You can also put trellises up on the sides of your house for things like grapes, squash, gourds, and cucumbers if you don’t have allot of space. Speaking of which, this farm is amazing: http://urbanhomestead.org/urban-homestead

Grow your own mushrooms. You can buy premade kits for growing mushrooms on the internet for about 25 dollars. It’s little more than a bag of straw and nutrients innoculated with mushroom spores, and you don’t really have to do anything to get them to produce brilliantly. Just stick it in a cabinet or closet when you get it and wait till it starts producing. It’s so foolishly simple I have no idea why everyone’s not doing it, but then again I think that about allot of things, like keeping chickens and making soap.

Raise chickens. Chickens are so easy to raise it’s crazy. Just set them outside and go collect the eggs, then butcher them in Fall. That assumes you have a porch or shed they can roose and get out of the rain under and enough land that they can roam around on without ending up on someone else’s property, and a stream or puddle or someplace they can get water. They’ll be able to find all the bugs they need to eat, so no need to feed them. If you don’t have ideal conditions then you can fence them in or build a chicken coop. Once you’ve set one up you’re all set though. They eat just about anything, kitchen scraps and leftovers, potato mash, oats. A big bag of cracked corn will last a very long time if you mix in some more nutritious stuff like leftovers and is cheap. Allot of times you can find people giving away chickens pretty easy too.

Raise rabbits. Rabbits are an amazing source of food, one doe from a meat breed like californians can produce 300 pounds of meat in one year, and they can live on pretty little. I once read that a 20 by 20 foot garden could supply enough food to raise one buck and three does for a whole year.

Compost. It’s pretty easy to keep an extra bucket next to your trash to throw decomposable odds and ends in. Vegetable ends, uneaten or old food, paper scrap, all sorts of things. Why not go get a bucket and stick it there now? Empty it in a pile outside, flip the pile over next to itself a couple times a year to let it aerate, and when it’s black soil it’s ready to stick on your garden or in pots.

Vermiculture. Both for your own food, and as a form of compost. If you want to eat them you have to set them in little wet cornmeal overnight so their system cleans out, then boil the mucus off their skin. Then you can cut them up and use them in any recipe that calls for very lean meat, since that’s all they are. They really do taste good, don’t take my word for it, go try some! You can grind them up and add a little tallow or lard to keep the burger together and do anything with it you’d do with burger if you don’t care for the sight of them whole on your plate. The liquid you pour off the worm colony periodically is also excellent nutritients for plants, so you can water your container plants with it whenever you get it.

Raise insects. A couple 2 gallon glass jars and you can raise a mealworms to eat. Take a look here for a good guide: http://abigalesedibles.com/mealworm-care/ Crickets are just as easy, but really hard to prevent escaping. I like to dry them and grind them into flour, adds an excellent flavour to breads and buscuits. Sorta like sardines or roasted pine nuts. Very very good.

Brush your teeth with a stick. I really have no idea why this is so unheard of in the U.S.. This is historically the most common method of cleaning teeth, and is still used in parts of the world. It’s no less effective than a toothbrush, either. My guess it it’s a marketing thing rather than any actual benefit of modern toothbrushes. Just chop off a stick and chew on the end for a while, it’ll eventually break up into fibers like a brush. Pretty near any tree will work, but there’s some trees they sell specifically because in addition to turning into small fibers they also have chemicals in them good for the teeth. I don’t know if any of the local varieties have the same chemicals or not, but they still work. If you don’t have steady access to the woods, just take a big handful of sticks home next time you find some good trees. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teeth_cleaning_twig

Bake bread once a week. The actual working parts involved don’t take all that long. I’d say 20 to 30 minutes at most, combining the ingredients, kneading the dough, putting it on a pan and into the oven, and then taking it out of the oven. The vast majourity of it is just waiting for the bread to rise and then for it to bake. Besides, the more often you do it, the better you’ll be at making good bread and the quicker you’ll be. And flat breads or bisquits can be made even quicker because they don’t need to take the time to rise.

Start using candles or oil lamps for light. Candles are very cheap and easy to come by, and oil for oil lamps isn’t very cheap 3but it still works out to cheaper than electric lights. It can take a bit of adjusting, since you can’t just sit down anywhere in the room and expect to be able to read a book at night, but once you get used to it you don’t even notice. And with different reflectors oil lamps and candle lamps can be really quite bright in a limited area.

Keep bees. I’ve never kept bees myself, and there’s already allot of very good comprehensive guides out there on it. Startup is expensive, from what I gather if you were to buy everything and make none of the equipment yourself, it would cost nearly 700$ to get initially set up completely for two hives, the tools and outfit, and the starting bee colonies. But once you have it going, you have them going. You could get away with never having to put any money into it again if you do it right. The great thing about bees is you don’t need hardly any land to raise them, you could keep them on a balcony or a rooftop if you wanted. The other great thing is they make your garden produce so much better. And the greatest thing is all the honey! And you can get bee pollen, royal jelly, wax, you can collect bee venom for it’s medicinal uses (or just use the bees), and you can eat the larvae. It’s pretty win-win. Then again I feel the same about almost everything on this list.

Raise your own sugar. If you live in an area with sugar maples you probably already know how to do this. If not, you can always raise sugar beets. This blog: https://lastoneeating.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/the-beet-goes-on-ann-arbor-sugar-beet-project-2010/ says a 5 foot square patch of garden can grow 5-10 pounds of sugar with sugar beets. I’ve never succeeded in this myself (I can’t get them to grow right in my swamp…I need to make some raised beds for next year) but it’s supposed to be fairly easy, just boilig shredded root until you have syrup, and crystalising it the same way you would maple syrup.

Raise your own flour. Wheat is the all around most versatile grain in my opinion. It grows in the widest range of conditions and has enough gluten in it to make anything wihout mixing it with other flours.

A couple good documentaries

An iron age reenacted village for a year;
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=zRs-zRoBIc4

40 years of isolation in Patagonia;
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JZFp8ldcTx4

Wilderness village in the Ural mountains
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tt2AYafET68

Dick Proenik’s Alone in the Wild
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iYJKd0rkKss

Canadian documentary from 1953 on the Inuit;
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0qfxtMW66C8

The most remote family in Alaska;
http://m.youtube.com/watch?&v=Iq0rZn8HFmQ

The Zo’é tribe of Brazil;
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=–1AEHcLmuk

Foraging: An introduction

Here at the Nomadic Village we think it is important that everyone know the importance of foraging . This is a skill that not only can increase food independence but can increase all the yield of all sorts of all sorts of resources year round.  Important resources that can be used in dyeing fabric, making medicines, and even used in the manufacture of clothing.  Furthermore, foraging is a lot more than just merely scoping out and picking up valuable plants, with proper training one can go out and find all sorts of interesting things from fungi to plant products, to lichens to pollen.

Let us begin with the benefits with foraging for food.  Many already know the benefits of hunting for a portion of ones overall caloric intake, and depending on the environment meat can be a very important part of any diet.  Hunting alone, however, cannot provide all of the nutrients required to sustain a health life. Furthermore, meat preservation can be difficult in certain environments and climates and therefore can be dubious.  It is essential then to develop the skills to pull more nutrients from the environment.  This is conducted through the action of foraging.  Foodstuffs such as nuts, berries, leafy greens, and succlent fruits can be collected and eaten on the spot during any foray.  In fact, in some areas you dont have to look very hard at all to harvest some nutrient rich foods.  For instance, if you go for a quick stroll down any roadside, you may find a bounty of delicious dandelions, purslane

Purslane, regarded by some as a garden pest, but seen by others as a nutrient rich treat!

Purslane, regarded by some as a garden pest, but seen by others as a nutrient rich treat!

or red clover right at your feet and ready to eat.  If you take a walk through nearly any meadow the the late spring or early summer you can find a growth of the Great Burdock plant, which can be boiled down in two changes of water for a leafy green.  Burdock root is also used in several different ways as a medicinal plant.  This are just a few examples of the bounty that many may perceive  as just ordinary weeds or even garden pests.

There are other powerful  important plants that foodstuffs can be derived.  For instance, the simple cattail pollen can be collected and baked into a  delicious bread.  The yeast to bake such  bread could be derived from the outer bark of the Aspen tree.  This knowledge isn’t some sort of esoteric cult knowledge, no instead it is generated over years of experience of the natural world. In Europe during the Middle Ages, people would collect all plants that were known not to be poisonous and cook them together in soups.  This sort of trial and error in terms of plants was done for centuries including observing what foods animals avoid.  Now a days it is easy to get info about foraging with manuals such as   The Foragers Harvest    .  More information about the book can be found by clicking the link above.

Plants, however, are not just for eating.  They can be used to stock up your own natural pharmacy. This sort of gathering of medicinal herbs is an important skill set but one that should could after some experience identifying and preparing plants in the field.  There are literally thousands of medicinal plants that can be used to cure nearly any disease.  Furthermore, there are other important organisms by which medicines can be derived.  Fungi for instance can be harvested for a whole array of medicinal properties.  The Fungal Pharmacy is comprehensive volume written about the subject which also goes into some detail about the use of mushrooms beyond medicine as well.  If mushrooms are something of an interest, one with a well trained eye and a penchant for the hunt of an elusive fungi can truly enjoy making a meal out of these nutrient rich organisms.

These Yellow Morrels are a rare find but are considered a delicacy.

These Yellow Morels are a rare find but are considered a delicacy.

Expect a large treatise at some point expounding upon the numerous uses of fungi in terms of food, medicine, and various other interesting purposes soon.

There is another important element to foraging and that is the gathering of resources used in natural dyecrafting.  Many people may wonder what the purpose of gathering plants for later use for dyeing cloth when one can purchase so many different varities and colors of predyed fabrics and materials from nearly any well supplied yarn shop or fabric store.  The answer is simple.  There is a depth of color that is unavailible with modern synthetic dyes and furthermore, the chemical processes to create such dyes can be harmful to the environment and lastly, it promotes a culture that promotes largescale and perhaps unattainable textile creation that at some level has to put someone to work in a mill.  This isnt always bad but it certainly is something to be mindful of when setting about thinking about garments.  Certainly however it is important to understand the depth of color and the spectacular ability of the natural world to produce dyes for fabric.  On a historical note, dyeing fabric used to be at the heart of the world economy with certain components to dyes being worth more than gold.  Certain species of lichens were used to create a beautiful purple dye (purple by the way was considered one of the most difficult dyes to create). No matter what your prefrance to color is there is a deep array of oppertunity waiting just beneath your feet. This mushroom guide and The Art and Natural Dyeing  are two good starting points.

This shows how from various plants, a wide array of colors is born

This shows how from various plants, a wide array of colors is born

Overall these are just three small parts of the important art of foraging.  Look forward to seeing more articles outlining further various topics discussed here.  If there is one in particular that  is of interest please comment below and we will try to get you more info or post upon it sooner.

Ink made from black walnuts!

Ink made from black walnuts!

 

Paper made of mushrooms!

Paper made of mushrooms!